Many scientists spent years traveling and digging to find remains of prehistoric animals but members of a family in Texas were not even looking for fossils nor making scientific excavations when they chanced upon a nearly intact remains of a prehistoric creature.
The Mcewen family was digging in a gravel pit on their ranch in Ellis County when they discovered the remains of a mammoth, which scientists said were preserved in a nearly perfect state.
Ron Tykosky, from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Texas, said that the remains were that of a Columbian mammoth, which is bigger and likely less hairy compared with the more popular Woolly mammoth that people know of.
The prehistoric beast, which has been named "Ellie May" because it was discovered in Ellis County in May, was initially discovered when the McEwens were digging in a gravel pit and the digger came to a sudden stop when it ran into what turned out to be the animal's giant tusks. The family has decided to donate the skeleton, which experts believe to be between 20,000 to 60,000 years old, to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
Excavating remains of mammoth is not new in the area but it is rare to find a specimen as well preserved as the one found by the McEwen family in their farm. The skeleton, which lies on the bed of sand where it has died thousands of years ago, is 85 percent complete.
"Usually the bones are scattered and you get the remains of maybe 30 or 40 percent of the animal," said Navarro College professor Tom Vance, who oversaw the excavation. "But anyone can look at this and know it's a mammoth. It looks exactly like what it is."
The skeleton appears to belong to a female Columbian mammoth that lived in the area in the Late Pleistocene Epoch. Ellie May measures between 8 to 9 feet at the shoulders and is about the size of the present-day female Asian elephant.
Tykoski is on a race against time to bring the skeleton to the museum's research lab as the excavated bones are now exposed to elements such as water that can potentially cause unwanted damage to the specimen. He will spend at least one year doing research on the animal's remains to find clues on the mammoth's age, diet and what may have caused its death.